A former US Marine who runs a ghost tour company also uses his experience to help train soldiers fighting against Russia in Ukraine.
Lance Zaal is the founder of US Ghost Adventures, a company that offers “authentic ghost tours” in America’s most haunted cities.
However, the veteran told Daily Express US how he spends his free time arming and training fighters in Ukraine.
The businessman journeyed to a town outside of Kyiv shortly after Vladimir Putin ordered his forces to invade Ukraine to help a friend caught up in the war. He formed the group known as the Ghosts of Liberty as a way to train and arm civilians-turned-soldiers in Ukraine.
“I formed the Ghosts of Liberty in February after the invasion last year. It was originally intended to train my friend and a group of his friends in Ukraine to resist the Russian invasion,” Zaal told Daily Express US.
He added: “It became clear that Ukraine wasn’t going to be conquered within a couple of weeks so the focus changed to formal military training.”
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Zaal, who signed up for the Marines on September 11, 2001 following the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, originally tried to hire other trainers who had more recent military experience but they backed out.
“My friend and the group of people he was with were now [March 2022] about 80 to 100 guys who hadn’t received any training. They didn’t have body armor or a lot of equipment. That’s where I came in,” he said.
Zaal provided plate carriers, body armor, first aid kits, rifles, night vision scopes and other necessary warfighting equipment to the group. He also flew to Ukraine to help them train.
“The training started with first aid – they needed to learn how to save a life first. Then [I taught them] how to handle their weapons,” Zaal said.
The former Marine taught the group how to aim and control their weapons and how to dig defensive positions. The crash course also covered night ambushes and assault tactics.
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Lance also recruited a veteran of the war in the Donbas which began in 2014 when so-called Ukrainian separatists backed by Russia took territory in the east of the country. His insight into the fighting there proved invaluable.
“They had to learn about the weapons of war and what they can do to a person. What a grenade or artillery can do. Helping them understand how ugly and brutal war really is was really important to help keep them alive,” Lance added.
He admits that his training in Ukraine was “very limited” but he says it is “the best thing that I have done with my military experience – it’s the one thing I am most proud of”.
Zaal still keeps in touch with some of the men he trained. After his first trip, he returned to Ukraine several times to provide equipment soldiers could use in their fight against Russia.
Lance runs the hospitality and tourism company called US Ghost Adventures which promises to deliver “fun, honest and bone-tingling accounts of very real hauntings across America”.
“We operate in about 70 cities across the United States,” Lance said of his company.
He continued: “The company continues to expand and that’s what I do during the daytime. It’s a small business but it’s a really fun role and we do some fun things.”
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